16 Shows & Movies About Isolation That Will Make You Feel Less Alone

Netflix

As most of the world shelters inside in order to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, one of the few ways to pass the time is by watching a lot of TV and movies. Many people have turned to pandemic fiction: shortly after the coronavirus outbreak began to escalate in the U.S., the 2011 film Contagion spiked on the iTunes movie rental chart. But while psychologists agree these kinds of stories can offer a sense of control, they also advise to proceed with caution.

"It's important to remember that the goal of fiction writers is to entertain by sensationalizing the effects of a particular issue," Dr. Helen Odessky Phys.D., a clinical psychologist and author of Stop Anxiety From Stopping You, previously told Bustle. "If you find yourself feeling on edge, see a negative change in your mood, or have others close to you notice a negative impact, it may be time to change course."

Instead, you might try watching shows and movies about isolation that provide a bit of comedic relief — or at least some comfort in seeing people come together in times of distress. Here are 16 options that you can stream right now while safely socially distanced.

1. 'The Last Man On Earth'

Jordin Althaus/FOX

Set in 2022, this post-apocalyptic comedy stars Will Forte as Phil Miller, who is seemingly the only human survivor after a deadly virus wipes out most of the population. That premise might hit a little too close to home, but the show is filled with levity that makes the end of the world look a lot less lonely (after all, he's not really the last man on Earth).

Where to watch: Hulu

2. 'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt'

Eric Liebowitz/Netflix

Kimmy's unbridled optimism even after she was held hostage underground by a cult leader is the inspiration we need right now. Plus, it's sort of impossible to watch this show without cracking a smile.

Where to watch: Netflix

3. 'Cast Away'

Archive Photos/Moviepix/Getty Images

Tom Hanks knew a thing or two about isolation even before he and his wife were diagnosed with COVID-19. His Cast Away character got stranded on an uninhabited island with nothing but his buddy Wilson (no, not his wife Rita Wilson) to keep him company. It's a tour de force in acting...and it has a hopeful ending.

Where to watch: Hulu, Cinemax

4. 'Love Is Blind'

Netflix

This bonkers Netflix hit shows dating is possible even when you're stuck at home: a group of singles are all shuttled to an Atlanta "pod" facility, where they get to know each other by talking through an opaque wall. Once they get engaged, they can finally meet face-to-face...then decide if they still want to get married a month later.

5. 'The Circle'

Netflix

Though there's no $100,000 prize waiting for you at the end of self-quarantine, you may feel like you're in your own version of The Circle, a reality competition show that follows a group of strangers as they chat online from their own isolated apartments. Think of it like Love is Blind, but for friendship (and with a little catfishing thrown in).

Where to watch: Netflix

6. 'Avenue 5'

Nick Wall/HBO

If you can take anything from this new comedy from the creator of Veep, it's that being stuck in your home on Earth with incompetent leadership is infinitely better than being stuck on a luxury cruise ship in space with incompetent leadership.

Where to watch: HBO

7. 'Groundhog Day'

Archive Photos/Moviepix/Getty Images

Self-quarantining at home may make you feel like you're living the same day over and over again, like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. One version is just a lot funnier.

Where to watch: Netflix

8. 'Home Alone'

20th Century Fox

Macaulay Culkin's Kevin McCallister can give you an idea or two about how to stay entertained while stuck at home. And hey, at least you're not fending off robbers after your family forgot to bring you on vacation!!

Where to watch: Rent or buy on Amazon Prime

9. 'Schitt's Creek'

Pop TV

The Rose family are fish out of water when they lose all their money and must relocate to the rural town of Schitt's Creek, where they have to learn how to live without many of the luxuries they're accustomed to.

Where to watch: Netflix, Pop TV

10. 'Tangled'

Disney

Singing along to "When Will My Life Begin?" while watching a movie about a girl who grew up in isolation is appropriately cathartic — especially since she's from the kingdom of Corona.

Where to watch: Disney+

11. 'The Boy In The Plastic Bubble'

ABC Photo Archives/Walt Disney Television/Getty Images

This made-for-TV movie follows a young John Travolta as Tod Lubitch, a boy forced to live in a protective "bubble" due to his compromised immune system but determined to venture into the outside world.

Where to watch: Amazon Prime

12. 'Bubble Boy'

Buena Vista Pictures

Inspired by The Boy In The Plastic Bubble, this 2001 black comedy stars Jake Gyllenhaal as Jimmy Livingston, a boy who must live in a sterilized bubble in his bedroom because he was born without an immune system. But when his neighbor — who he's in love with — tells him she's going to Niagara Falls to marry her boyfriend, Jimmy builds a bubble suit and runs away to stop the wedding.

Where to watch: Rent or buy on Amazon Prime

13. 'Everything, Everything'

Warner Bros.

Everything, Everything similarly stars Amandla Stenberg as an 18-year-old girl unable to leave her sterilized house due to an immune disorder. It's part romance, part drama: when she falls in love with the boy next door (from afar), she realizes not everything is as it seems.

Where to watch: Rent or buy on Amazon Prime

14. 'Orange Is The New Black'

Paul Schiraldi/Netflix

Though the women of Litchfield can still interact with one another, they are forcibly isolated from the outside world. Not only does this Netflix series expose the many issues within our criminal justice system, but it's ultimately a testament to survival and how the inmates band together to withstand difficult circumstances.

Where to watch: Netflix

15. 'It's Kind Of A Funny Story'

Focus Features/screenshot

This 2010 dramedy follows Craig Gilner, a 16-year-old struggling with suicidal ideation who checks into a mental health facility to seek help. But despite its dark premise, it's actually a tender and heartfelt story about the friendships, romance, and self-exploration he discovers during his one-week stay.

Where to watch: Hulu

16. 'What We Do in the Shadows'

Bryon Cohen/FX

Missing the sunlight? Imagine how the vampires in this beloved 2014 New Zealand mockumentary — and its TV adaptation — feel.

Where to watch: Rent or buy on Amazon Prime (movie); Hulu (TV series)

If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and coughing, call NHS 111 in the UK or visit the CDC website in the U.S. for up-to-date information and resources. You can find all Bustle’s coverage of coronavirus here, and UK-specific updates on coronavirus here.